Former president Donald Trump’s long battle with Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance over access to Trump’s tax and other financial records finally came to an end on Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Trump’s bid to further block Vance’s subpoenas on behalf of a grand-jury investigation. The decision came in an unsigned order (presumably unanimous) without comments, which has the effect of affirming a circuit court’s earlier decision that Trump must supply the documents in question. It’s SCOTUS’s second decision in the case; last July, the Court dismissed Trump’s argument that a sitting president is immune from criminal investigations but allowed the then-president’s lawyers to challenge the Vance subpoenas on other grounds. They did to no avail.
While the Court did not explain its decision, Vance’s brief suggested the confidentiality concerns Trump’s lawyers stressed were no longer valid given the publication by the New York Times of substantial material from Trump’s tax returns, as the Times’ Adam Liptak explained:
“The New York Times has obtained his tax-return data and described that data in depth in a series of articles,” Mr. Vance’s brief said. “With the details of his tax returns now public, applicant’s asserted confidentiality interests have become highly attenuated if they survive at all. And even assuming any remain, they cannot justify extraordinary relief from this court that would deprive the grand jury alone of facts available to anyone who reads the press.”
On Twitter, Vance issued a three-word comment on today’s order: “The work continues.”
While the full scope of Vance’s investigation isn’t clear, it began with allegations of hush-money payments to two women claiming sexual relationships with Trump (which might have violated campaign-finance disclosure laws) as he was running for president. But it appears Vance is also looking into possible tax and insurance fraud. Today’s decision was a reminder that potential criminal liability for the 45th president is by no means limited to incidents during his various efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, including the incitement to insurrection for which he was impeached in December.
As it happens, one of the two women whose allegations touched off the Vance investigation, former porn star Stormy Daniels, suffered her own rebuff from SCOTUS today, as the Court rejected her effort to sue Trump for defamation in a 2018 tweet that lower courts described as a protected expression of opinion.